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Plug-in



When I started telling people about my plan to start a church online, they were generally supportive, if somewhat confused and curious about how it would work—maybe because I was. What would be different or attractive about this church?

Lots of churchgoers think their religion is the only true religion and nobody else “gets it” or is “saved”—that's a big turn-off. Then there are those who are fed up with the politics, money and ego and are leaving church. And still another big number of people are convinced that organized religion and God and “all the hypocrites” with their crazy beliefs are just a buncha crap and won’t touch church with a fork. I can't really argue with them, except to point out that most "news" about anything is bad—the good things aren't nearly as juicy.

The so-called “Holy Land” is racked with fear, violence, suffering and death. There are Jews against Muslims, extremists against moderates, rich against the poor. Even some Buddhist monks have taken up violence against the Chinese in Tibet. Climate change is something we can’t even agree on, let alone begin to fix. The world’s biggest and richest financial institutions must be bailed out by the very people they have abused.  

There it is: fear, insanity, violence, rape, and brokenness. These are some of the saddest expressions of our world’s prevailing wisdom and corrupted operating systems. Not a pretty picture.

How in the hell (and I use the term purposely) are we supposed to clean up this whole mess? Everybody has some small answers for their own situations, but as soon as we start cleaning up one mess, it just seems to create another; the mess just gets moved around and redistributed—different piles, but still a mess. How is one more church, online no less, going to make any sort of difference? How can any of us see past our apparent differences and agree to begin walking side by side toward the better world we all say we want, but can’t seem to allow?

Maybe I’m simple or stupid or naive or just plain crazy or all of the aforementioned, but . . . I’m hopeful! I really do believe we can, together, (maybe not tomorrow) create a world where we can live in love more than we live in fear. And if that doesn’t sound crazy enough, I also believe that the things we must do to make it happen are really very simple—definitely not easy—but simple. We must decide to love instead of fear, to honor truth instead of denying it. Church Your Way is meant to be a plug-in to help us begin doing those things better and easier.

Here’s why the plug-in analogy works for me. A plug-in can be both an activity or a tool. The term still definitely means “to connect”, but some of you may not know “plug-in” as a computer term, so let me explain: computer “hardware” is the physical components—the machinery of a computer. “Software” is the instructions that make the machinery work. Now, sometimes software—the instructions—get “corrupted,” and the hardware doesn’t work right, so we “plug in” still another program to find the corrupted (or inappropriate) instructions and replace them with improved instruction that make the system work better—a “plug-in.”

To continue the computer analogy, our civilization is quite literally an infrastructure of physical and institutional “hardware.” Take our national health care delivery system for example: We have the best doctors, the best technology and the best hospitals, but somehow, by most objective measures in general categories like infant mortality, chronic disease and overall longevity, we perform poorly compared to the rest of the industrialized world—and, our medical care costs nearly twice as much as theirs, with more than ten percent of our citizens unable to afford the most basic preventative medical attention they need.

Now, I’m not smart enough to suggest a fix for health care, but anyone can see that this is only one of many sad examples of how the software that runs our hardware civilization—our thinking—is horribly corrupted by illusions, delusions, misconceptions and denials. We have chosen to operate from our corrupted ideas of what is true, instead of from what is actually true.

Is it really surprising that our world is broken and doesn’t run right? And isn’t it interesting that the word “broken” can mean two things: that it’s “in pieces” and that it “doesn’t work?” Isn’t it even more interesting, that we somehow know instinctively that what is broken should be reassembled and made to work? We can put things back together and make them work. But of all the broken things in this world that must be fixed, the first and single most important one is our thinking. Without that, nothing else will work right.

Although Church Your Way has no new answers, my hope and dream for this church is that it will become a new plug-in to help all of us, even with our very different beliefs and understandings, begin to find and fix the bugs in the earlier versions our own operating systems—our thinking—that will allow them to work in ever more excellent ways. This whole frightened deluded world really does need a user-friendly plug-in that will run in any operating system and help us look for—and find—love and truth. - Rev. Jay



Church Your Way
Jay & Sharon Williams
Davenport, IA
Address, phone available on request.